(Attention, this article is not about changing ID3v2 Tags, read that article here.)
A few observations before we begin about the music files that we host on NativeDSD.com:
Each track includes track numbers and album catalog numbers in the filename, so one can make sure they are in order and can be identified as a set.
The naming conventions pass the (sometimes) difficult character rules set up by our Amazon S3 host server in the cloud. However, as a user, these consistencies do very little to make sure the files are easily identified, especially if one were to get lost in another folder accidentally.
I am the tagging editor at NativeDSD and I ensure that every track is chock full of metadata (i.e tags) that, when played back in most software players, contain user-friendly info such as artist, album name, track name, track number, work and movement (if included) , composer, conductor (if included), other artist(s), genre, sub-genre, label, year and the necessary accounting info (catalog number, ISRC, etc) plus of course the album's main artwork.
The good news is, again, three-fold:
Modern computer audio software players don't care about filenames as they import and index your music library, using only the above-mentioned contained ID3V2 tags (artist, album, track #, etc), and then present it to you in a highly searchable catalog.
Those same ID32V2 tags can be used to rename your files automatically. Just set up a filename rule and hit enter.
The more metadata included in the file the more flexible you can be in renaming the filenames.
Paid and Free options to rename your audio files
This guide will walk you through doing that in two popular programs, one is a paid-for player (JRiver Media Center) and one is a piece of freeware (MP3Tag). There are others, too, like Tag-And-Rename, etc. The only real work for the user is to do a one-time setup of your file name rule. After that, the process is one-click.
OK, so what do I mean by a filename rule? Well, it simply means how do you want your filename to describe your tracks, and what should be included. Your don't want them too long to be difficult to read (and Windows, for example, does not like long path names, which includes filenames and the parent and child folders they are in). Clearly a track number is required, in order to sort and make sure none are missing. From there, I use artist, album and track name. This works for everything but classical music, where you might want to set up a different rule, like track number, album and composer (or label) as classical track names can be extremely long if they include the work and movement descriptors (like "Les soirées de Nazelles, FP 84 - Variation 3: La desinvoltue et la discretion"). The tools allow for multiple rules. Once you create them, they are included in a pulldown menu.
So...I've chosen a worst case scenario, a 22 track album whose downloaded filenames are pretty nondescript. Here is before and after:
Using JRiver to rename your files
Load your album of 22 tracks into JRiver and highlight them all.
Right-click and choose Library tools -> Rename, copy, move
Make sure rename function is set in first pulldown, then click the filename checkbox and begin to build your rule. Right click in the rule box and choose each field (track #, then Album, then Artist, then Name). You might want to separate each with a space and a dash for readability.
Once the rule is set, choose "ok" and you are done. The next time you go in, this rule will be the default, and will also be saved in "recent". This is the way you can create multiple rules, say for classical or opera where track names may not be a good field to choose because they are too verbose.
Using MP3Tag to rename your files
MP3tag is freeware and in the Windows environment is executable via Windows Explorer right click, so find your album folder and right-click MP3tag
Highlight all the track and choose the first arrow icon (tag-filename)
Build your rule using the right most arrow icon and the subsequent field names. Once again you may want to separate the fields by a space, a dash and space fore better readability.
Hit ok and you are done! Voila! Again, these rules are saved, and show you a preview of what your file name will look like as you build the rule.